Advice about Bouchon almond cake?
I want to try this almond cake
with our yummy local strawberries but it seems funny to me to add the almonds on top AFTER the cake has baked - won't they all fall off when you cut the cake? Could they be sprinkled on the batter before baking or would they sink in or something? Would you still toast them first or leave them raw? Thanks!
Yes, they will tend to slide around and fall off when you cut the cake and I dont think brushing the cake with the amaretto will prevent that; the almonds function more for a very attractive garnish, which can be thought of as a sort of a "signal" or clue for what your about to taste, than for adding flavor, as the flavor comes from the almond paste and extract. Of course, you get the almond crunch. You can top the cake batter with the almonds before you bake, they will not sink in, but the resulting appearance won't be quite the same. Since you're baking them, I'd not bother with browning them first. If they get too brown while baking, you can lightly cover the cake with foil. These cakes bake rather quickly, so you may not have a issue with that.
If you try adding them to the batter before baking, let us know how it works out.
Good morning! I'm with you on why sprinkle on top...I made a different almond cake in a bundt pan that let me creatively place the almonds in the bottom of the pan so they'd look all sorts of pretty atop the cake and baked right in. You might try that with this cake, too--not necessarily a bundt pan, but you could make a pretty pattern/design with the almonds on the bottom of the pan, then pour the batter carefully over it et voila! Flip it when you're done and admire your work!
The recipe I had called for whole almonds...I prefer thinner slices and think they allow for more artistic flair in your design. :) See what you think! Pics here:
Next question: I got out my "almond paste" and found that it's actually marzipan. What's the difference? Will the marzipan work? It's Odense brand and comes in a 200g tube and contains sugar, almonds, and glucose syrup. I used it before for Amanda Hesser's almond cake - it didn't blow me away and I always wondered if it was because I used marzipan instead of almond paste. Any ideas?
Here's the Wiki expanation, which I feel to be an accurate assessment, as I have used both almond paste and marzipan:
"Almond paste is made from ground almonds or almond meal and sugar, typically 50-55%, with a small amount of cooking oil, beaten eggs, heavy cream or corn syrup added to bind the two ingredients. (my note: those extra ingredients are usually added when used for baking.) It is similar to marzipan but marzipan contains more sugar than almond paste, and often contains additional ingredients such as food preserves and food coloring. Almond paste has much less sugar, typically 50-55% compared to 75-85% sugar for marzipan of cheap quality ..." Wiki goes on the say that almond paste is a higher quality alternative to marzipan. If you do a side by side taste comparison, you'll see the difference.
Solo brand canned almond paste is a brand I often see in larger supermarkets. Odense brand also makes almond paste packed in tubes.
You can cut the sugar back, but there's not much in the SK recipe to start with, because there's quite a bit in the almond paste. I prefer almond paste much more than marzipan, I think it has a much better almond flavor, and marzipan is just ok for those little sculpted and colored fruits, and other decorating and candy uses, imo. Using it in the cake is highly likely that's the reason you weren't blown away by the recipe. So you may want to set the marzipan aside for another use, and get some almond paste.
Reporting back...I didn't have time to go out hunting for almond paste so I put about half my tube of marzipan in the food processor with some blanched almonds, and let 'er go...eventually made a paste so I used 200g of that. I sprinkled almonds on the cake before baking and they sank in just a little but looked nice. They weren't very crunchy, though - maybe that's a reason to put toasted almonds on just before serving. The cake turned out well - very moist and tasty. I served it with whipped cream and the strawberry-rhubarb compote (recipe makes TONS of compote - way too much for the cake but it's easy to get rid of! with the Fage yogurt I smuggled back from NYC) and the flavours were great together.
Thanks for all the advice!